Researchers at William & Mary and the University of California-Davis somehow convinced nearly 12,000 FreedomWorks members to take a survey exploring their ideological and policy positions in order to analyze how the attitudes of the most ardent members of the Tea Party compare to those of other non-Tea Party aligned Republicans. The results must be sobering to the establishment GOP-types like Karl Rove and Eric Cantor trying to re-brand the party as slightly right-of-sane.
First, as the authors point out, Tea Party members and supporters now constitute a majority of the current Republican Party, not a minority faction. Their study finds that two-thirds of Republican identifiers strongly support or support the Tea Party, slightly higher than the roughly half of Republicans who say they support the Tea Party in other public polling from NBC/Wall Street Journal.
Second, Tea Party supporters are much more politically active than other Republicans:
For example, in 2008 Tea Party Republicans performed 1.42 activities for the presidential and congressional tickets on average, compared with only .41 activities by non-Tea Party Republicans. In 2010, with only congressional races at the national level, Tea Party Republicans performed on average 0.68 activities versus only 0.12 by non-Tea Party Republicans. Tea Party supporters are responsible for almost all of the total campaign activity performed by party supporters on the Republican side.
Third, on every contentious issue from reducing environmental regulations and repealing Obamacare to taxes and even banning abortion, Tea Party supporters are far more right-wing than other Republicans.
For a movement that’s helped to reshape the Republican Party—and by extension, reshape American politics—we know shockingly little about the people who make up the Tea Party. While some in the GOP once hoped to co-opt the movement, it’s increasingly unclear which group—the Tea Party or establishment Republicans—is running the show. Politicians have largely relied on conjecture and assumption to determine the positions and priorities of Tea Party activists.
Until now. The results of the first political science survey of Tea Party activists show that the constituency isn’t going away any time soon—and Republicans hoping the activists will begin to moderate their stances should prepare for disappointment. Based out of the College of William and Mary, the report surveyed more than 11,000 members of FreedomWorks, one of the largest and most influential Tea Party groups. The political scientists also relied on a separate survey of registered voters through the YouGov firm to compare those who identified with the Tea Party movement to those Republicans who did not. (Disclosure: The political scientist leading the survey was my father, Ronald Rapoport, with whom I worked in writing this piece.)
For the first time, we can now look at what a huge sample of Tea Party activists believe, as well as examine how those who identify with the Tea Party differ from their establishment GOP counterparts. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the study:
1. Tea Party activists are not Republicans.
2. Tea Party activists aren’t nearly as concerned about winning.
3. Attempts to bridge the gap between establishment Republicans and the Tea Party are doomed to fail.
Howard Phillips, one of the main architects of the Moral Majority and, more generally, the American religious right, died Saturday at the age of 72. According to the Christian News Network, he had been suffering from dementia.
Phillips had a long history in conservative and right-wing movements, including three runs as a third-party presidential candidate. He sat on the board of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and worked on Barry Goldwater’s unsuccessful 1964 presidential campaign. He then went on to get involved in the administration of Richard Nixon, who appointed him head of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).
According to left-leaning sociologist Sara Diamond, Phillips was convinced that the OEO was a vehicle for radical leftist recipients, so he encouraged Nixon to appoint other conservative activists from YAF and the American Conservative Union with the aim of eliminating many OEO programs. He launched a public relations campaign, eliminated the OEO’s regional offices, and de-funded anti-poverty programs — until a federal court ruled his actions illegal because his appointment had not been confirmed by the Senate, sparking Phillips’ resignation. Phillips went on to found or help found several key right-wing organizations and networks, including Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority.
During the Reagan Administration, Phillips founded and headed the influential Conservative Caucus. He was a founding member of the secretive and influential conservative Council for National Policy, and served as a senior editor at the Conservative Digest. By the 1990s, Phillips had grown dissatisfied with the Republican Party (it wasn’t right-wing enough) and founded the U.S. Taxpayers Party in 1992. USTP later morphed into the still-extant Constitution Party, whose goal is to implement Biblical law in America and to “limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries” and on whose presidential ticket Phillips ran. The party platform includes pushing states to “proscribe sexually offensive behaviors” including homosexuality; calling on U.S. troops to protect states against invasion by immigrants; opposing abortion in any circumstance; banning pornography; abolishing the IRS and the Department of Education; preventing the federal government from restricting the acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of liberty, law, and government; and returning all lands “held by the federal government without authorization of the Constitution” to the people.
Remember that widely discussed Republican National Committee diagnosis that explicitly recognized the need for the party to rethink its approach to gay rights issues? It said: “Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, this issue is a gateway into whether the party is a place they want to be.”
That was a nice sentiment. But here’s the reality:
The Republican National Committee passed resolutions Friday reaffirming its commitment to defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and calling on the Supreme Court to “uphold the sanctity of marriage” as it weighs rulings on two landmark cases involving gay marriage. At the RNC’s spring meeting in Los Angeles, committee members adopted a slate of resolutions unanimously and without discussion, a committee spokeswoman said.
What continues to remain striking here is that support for gay marriage is not just increasing among Americans overall. It’s that support for it is even higher than overall among the very groups among which Republicans themselves say they need to boost their party’s appeal.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) said in a radio interview on Tuesday that he finds it “discouraging” that the Republican Party is attempting to reach out to “so-called Hispanic voters.”
According to Think Progress, Huelskamp was explaining his resistance to the bipartisan immigration reform bill currently being written in the Senate to conservative radio host Steve Deache when he made the remarks.
“If you’re going to talk about giving a pathway to citizenship before you seal the border. They made a mistake in ‘86. I’m not going to repeat that,” Huelskamp said, referring to the Immigration Reform and Control Act enacted under former President Ronald Reagan.
“That’s not going to go through the House,” he cotinued. “What is interesting and very distracting and very discouraging is, Steve, after the election, the general discussion from Republicans in Washington was, we’ve got to do everything we can to win votes from the so-called Hispanic voter. And I say so-called because there’s all kinds of varieties of beliefs within that immigrant community. And the idea that suddenly, instead of voting 70 percent for the Democrats, somehow they’re going to start voting for Republican? No. What Republicans need to do is get off their rear ends and go out, outside of Washington, and talk about what they’re for!”
As recently as two months ago, the Republican Party has been declaring that Obama needs to show he’s “serious” about deficit reduction by embracing “entitlement reform.” When pressed for what sort of ideas they’d need to see Obama embrace, two items have continued to make repeated appearances: so-called “Chained-CPI” for Social Security and means-testing for Medicare. While Obama has resisted pushing such “reforms” outright, to the approval of progressive Democrats, they have been the subject of his negotiations with Speaker Boehner as far back as the debt ceiling talks in 2011.
Now, less than six months after winning reelection on a platform of protecting such programs while raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, Obama has actually put such proposals on paper as a real budget offer to Republicans. And I think we all knew what was going to come next…
Remember those warnings about how instead of welcoming President Obama’s adoption of Chained CPI, Republicans would continue to deny him a budget deal and attack him for proposing to cut Social Security?
Well Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) — who also happens to be chairman of the House GOP’s re-election committee — just showed how it’s done, saying Obama’s budget “lays out a shocking attack on seniors.”
“I’ll tell you when you’re going after seniors the way he’s already done on Obamacare, taken $700 billion out of Medicare to put into Obamacare and now coming back at seniors again, I think you’re crossing that line very quickly here in terms of denying access to seniors for health care in districts like mine certainly and around the country,” he said on CNN Wednesday afternoon.
Needless to say, if the NRCC chairman is fronting this line of attack, we’ll probably see it pop up contested districts around the country next year.
So that’s the sum total of this latest effort of “bipartisanship”: A budget that will go nowhere and do nothing but serve as a club that the GOP will relish in taking to the heads of Democrats in next year’s midterms, while only further disheartening progressive Democrats who believed this past election a vindication of their message to the American people. Nice job breaking it, hero.
Staver described Rob Portman, Karl Rove and Reince Priebus as “cockroaches” which “start running” once “you flip on the lights” over their comments on gay marriage, and Eliason said of the Log Cabin Republicans: “Is there nobody to clean the cockroaches out?”
After discussing George W. Bush’s failure to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment, Staver joined other Religious Right leaders like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer in warning about the emergence of a “third party” and a “mass exodus” from the GOP “if the Republican Party were to adopt same-sex marriage.”
For years many lizards have been posting about how the fringe extremes are leading the GOP, and the effects that would have. At both my blog and here I tried to halt that trend 2008-2010, but nobody was listening. Now I’m a Democrat, and I don’t expect that to change again for the rest of my life. There isn’t anybody in the GOP I want to put in office anymore — we just cannot afford the results, either socially or economically.
From Andrew Kohut,
In my decades of polling, I recall only one moment when a party had been driven as far from the center as the Republican Party has been today.
The outsize influence of hard-line elements in the party base is doing to the GOP what supporters of Gene McCarthy and George McGovern did to the Democratic Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s — radicalizing its image and standing in the way of its revitalization.
Andrew Kohut is the founding director and former president of the Pew Research Center. He served as president of the Gallup Organization from 1979 to 1989.
In those years, the Democratic Party became labeled, to its detriment, as the party of “acid, abortion and amnesty.” With the Democrats’ values far to the left of the silent majority, McGovern lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon in 1972.
While there are no catchy phrases for the Republicans of 2013, their image problems are readily apparent in national polls. The GOP has come to be seen as the more extreme party, the side unwilling to compromise or negotiate seriously to tackle the economic turmoil that challenges the nation.
It is no surprise that even elements of the Republican leadership that had been so confident of a Mitt Romney victory — including when it was clear that he was going to lose the election — are now looking at ways to find more electable candidates and cope with the disproportionate influence of hard-liners in the GOP. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus only scratched the surface this past week when he dissected the party’s November defeat: “There’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; and our primary and debate process needed improvement. So there’s no one solution. There’s a long list of them.”
A long list, but one that doesn’t address the emergence of a staunch conservative bloc that has undermined the GOP’s national image.
Henry Barbour, one of five GOP strategists spearheading the Republican National Committee’s post-campaign reboot, described President Barack Obama as a “socialist” Monday, using the well-worn rhetoric in an interview with The Hill.
“We all want to make America strong economically and militarily and every other way but you can’t do that if you’re not in office,” Barbour told The Hill. “We’ve got a socialist in office right now — how’s that working for us?”
Barbour is one of the authors of the RNC Growth and Opportunity Project — an “autopsy” report pointing to the party’s 2012 election shortcomings and image issues. The nearly 100-page report, released Monday morning, included a number of proposals for how to broaden the Republican Party’s appeal, including downplaying internal divisions and changing its tone on social issues.